Probably you’ve seen these news headlines recently about parents who are set on raising gender neutral children.
Children raised to not identify with their maleness or their femaleness specifically, and to instead just grow as confident humans without the entrapments and stereotypes of the outside world.
Sounds weird great.
You know, in theory.
But like pretty much every other experimental venture, chances are that’s its hypothetical awesomeness is not going to pan out into the actually-realized and tangible awesomeness one hopes for.
Because that’s just how hypotheticals and theories tend to work, right?
Personally, I’m not in the business of doing such in depth social experiments on my own children (this here blog is about as socially experimental as I get, and I’m not even brave enough to use our real names), or using them to “make someone think”.
But those are not my main beefs with this whole genderless children thing.
I don’t care that people are probably going to tease your kid because he doesn’t even know if he’s a boy or not (I mean I do, because teasing is sad, but not enough to make me write about it), and I don’t care that psychiatrists everywhere are claiming that you’re stripping your child of their sense of self and countless other super important emotional and developmental type stuff.
I’m just confused as to why a person would want to do this?
I kinda get the whole I-don’t-want-my-kid-pigeon-holed argument?
I mean no one even likes pigeons. I can only imagine what they might be like if you find one stuck in a hole.
Mostly though I feel a little lucky-for-you-that-you-get-to-choose-to-not-be-labeled bitterness.
It’s just my internal response when I hear about people all the way on purposes choosing to invite ostracism, marginalization, or prejudices upon their children for their own personal agendas (I realize all of those things are wrong, and it’s the judgers fault for feeling that way, but it’s still a big burden for a kid to bear).
It’s cool to be different because it fits you; I think it’s sorta less cool to force being different upon kids just to prove a point. Or because you believe your philosophical ideals are more important than allowing your child to just be a kid.
But maybe that’s just me and my life experiences talking.
As someone who has been stereotyped more times than I can count on my fingers and my toes, I can’t see that it’s had a huge affect on my overall life happiness (although it sucks when it’s happening). I don’t feel oppressed daily. And, I appreciate the sense of self an community that identifying as a black woman has helped me develop.
I know it’s different, race isn’t as fluid as gender (although, when you really break it down, it’s also no longer as rigid as people choose to believe). I can’t hide the fact that I am a person of color. Looking how I look and being stereotyped (or worse) because of it is just a part of my life. How I chose to identify with it is the only thing really up for discussion because no ambiguous clothing or hideous bowl cut is gonna hide my truth.
But, why would I even want to?
I’m happy with my blackness.
Doesn’t matter if people out there hate it.
Doesn’t matter if it makes you think things about me that aren’t always true.
Doesn’t matter if it makes others uncomfortable, surprised, excited, or frightened.
And, it doesn’t matter if I want it to be different.
It just is.
And I embrace it.
And love on it as much as I can.
And show The Dudes that it’s cool to do the same.
I feel similarly about my femaleness.
I like being a chick.
I like the power that it gives me. I like the look of it and the feel of it.
And, dang it, I like cute shoes and trendy handbags and sitting to pee and always being right.
I know, there are dudes out there that like that stuff too.
Heck, my own Dude has dabbled in tutu wearing and sparkly handbag carrying.
And I’m all the way fine with that.
It’s never once frightened me or made me think something is wrong with him. But, his affinity for the sparkly-er things in life also hasn’t made me want to deny his maleness or his desire to get buck in a monster truck.
He’s just being a child. An all the way awesome child who is learning who he is and what he loves.
Mostly he exhibits an interest in traditionally boy things. But, sometimes, he decides that he’d like a little shine rubbed on his face, and that’s okay too.
Point is, I’m not uncomfortable with gender neutral-ists (can we call them that?!) because they let their kids dress how they want, and don’t tell parents in their mommy group if their child is a male or a female (my son gets mistaken for a girl at least once a week, and I’ve exhausted myself with correcting people so mostly I just don’t).
For me it’s more about choosing to deny a part of oneself that just is.
Something that is bound to be questioned, challenged, and taken advantage of by others. Something that one needs to feel confident in, in order to combat that. And, something that really isn’t all about societal constructs, but also about individual feelings and emotions (and I’m of the belief that people don’t necessarily choose their gender).*
I believe in helping children develop a strong body image, and sense of self supported by the confidence that comes from pride in your own being.
All of it.
The maleness, and the femaleness.
Not just the sex, but the gender.
Plus I think it’s important for them to be aware of the expectations society places on them as men; me making them genderless wouldn’t get them out of that (it would probably just make things more difficult and confusing) anyway.
And think of the community something as basic as gender provides. The camaraderie that comes with a girls night or a day with the guys. Those things aren’t wrong, they’re awesome and they allow you to connect with people in a way that can even eliminate other things that would otherwise drive a wedge between you.
I teach my Dudes to feel confident in who they are; to explore their interests and emotions, and learn to know and love themselves.
All parts of themselves.
They need to know that being a man is not something to be ashamed of, or afraid of, or whatever (just like being a woman isn’t). And there are things about their maleness (not just the obvious physical ones, duh), that make them special, and unique, and good.
I don’t want The Dudes to experience stereotyping, or pigeon holing, or prejudice, or discrimination, or any of that ugly crap. I know it’s going to happen (actually it already has) and I know I can’t be with them every moment to kick someone who tries in the neck prevent it but, by making them aware and self-assured, I feel like I’m empowering them to have what they need to fight it if they choose to.
Of course, if they’re not up for it, I’m always down for a good battle.
So, what do you think about genderless humans? Are you one? Do you want to be? Are you raising your children to live without gender?
Feel free to weigh in on this whole thing as I’m curious to hear what people really think about it,
*Yep, you eeked out a little bit of political/social/philosophical type info from me on this post despite my desire to never admit to anything of that nature in this space. I am a firm believer in the fact that all people are created equal and that no one should be denied their right to be happy and enjoy a union with a loved one the way I am able to with my chosen spouse. People don’t chose who they love or how they feel in their bodies, and I don’t think anyone else should try to do it for them. There. I freakin’ said it.